Stuck in my head: Week 4 Digital Story Critique

Another week, another digital story to evaluate (and I mean it in the best way possible). Going forward, my weekly critiques will include a different framework taken from the appendix of Lankshear & Knobel’s Chapter 4 New Literacies and Social Practices of Digital Remixing. For all of you who read my blog, this just means I will be making a more concerted effort to find digital remixes in new formats (movie trailers, music videos, etc.) for these assignments.

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As usual (drum-roll), I had a tough time finding a digital story this week. I am not accustomed to searching for this type of content and I have yet to identify a digital remix “one stop shopping” outlet. However, it did occur to me that I’ve encountered a TON of unofficial movie trailers and music videos on YouTube (particularly library outreach music videos). I did a YouTube search for “librarian music video” and came across this annoying but unforgettable gem. I’ll embed it too just in case:

As you might have guessed, this is an outreach video from The Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library  in which they parody Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off.” In this video, the librarians successfully highlight their collections and services in a silly and (admittedly) annoyingly catchy way. This video in particular caught my eye because it serves as the perfect example of a basic principle of marketing: get them to remember you. I will critique this digital remix using the following criteria (from Lankshear & Knobel):

Involvement Types: Despite my previously mentioned annoyance at the music, the librarians display a clear enjoyment of the Taylor Swift song. They supply lyrics that match up almost perfectly with the original and make it their own as they tell patrons to “Check it out”. Based on the high quality production value, it is also clear that they have established themselves as Taylor Swift fans (parody is flattery). I am reluctant to say that they are supporting “controversial” music since most people love Taylor Swift, but it certainly is controversial to my ears (okay, enough jokes, this isn’t Mystery Science Theater 3000). Lastly, they are showing support for social justice by promoting the empowering services of the library.

Literacy Dimensions: Although I was obviously not present for the making of this video, the high production value reveals that the authors knew how to locate the target song and determine how to properly edit it (with the right technology) and ensure they are not in violation of copyright law (see parody law). They also clearly understand how to properly sync video and audio with the right editing tools. Based on the perfect match-up between the lyrics and the images (stack, patrons reading, video games, children’s story time), it is also safe to conclude that the authors understand the need for a logical connection between the two.

Online Spaces and Sites: The only thing I can say about the online spaces in this video is the excellent decision to put it up on YouTube. This allows the biggest possible audience to access it. In fact, using YouTube as an outlet will ensure that librarians all over the country (or world) will see it and feel inspired.

Improvements: There are only a couple of ways I can think of to improve the narrative. The editing and content is excellent! By the end of the video, I had a clear understanding of all their services. I still feel that a few more captions to identify services would be helpful (and more accessible) and maybe adding some graphics and/or clips. These are not essential, but they might improve an already effective outreach initiative.

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